Balanced attack helps Silver Eagles soar over A.I.

Balanced attack helps Silver Eagles soar over A.I.

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Balanced attack helps Silver Eagles soar over A.I.

GREENVILLE – Coming off of a disappointing season that saw the Hodgson boys basketball team finish 5-15 and far away from the state tournament, head coach Ed Sobocinski and his Silver Eagles were looking for improvement.

After a 61-48 victory over host A.I. duPont Thursday night, Hodgson now sits at 7-2, thanks to a new attitude and an unselfish effort on both ends of the floor.

“We have a lot of seniors and these guys understand that this is going to be the last chance for some of them,” explained Sobocinski, himself returning to the sidelines after a two-year absence. “Some of these kids played for us as freshman and now that we’re back, we’re trying to instill that same type of ‘together’ mentality.”

A.I. du Pont's Kevin Potts (center) drives between Hodgson's Keenan Williams (left) and Dawson Grinnage in the second half of Hodgson's 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

A.I. du Pont’s Kevin Potts (center) drives between Hodgson’s Keenan Williams (left) and Dawson Grinnage in the second half of Hodgson’s 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

“We’re a lot more organized and we’re executing better,” said senior guard L.J. Stansbury, who led all scorers with 19 points. “We’re just having fun out there. Last year, there wasn’t much fun, but there is this year now that we’re playing together.”

The Silver Eagles only trailed 2-1 in the first quarter before Stansbury and junior guard Keenan Williams got their offense firing on all cylinders, taking a 14-7 lead after one quarter of play.

“This year, we’re following a better plan,” said Williams, who scored 12 points. “We’re just doing what we have to do knock everybody off.”

The Tigers (8-3) responded in the second quarter behind senior guard Julius Inge, who scored seven of his team-high 16 points to close the gap to 21-18 going into halftime.

Hodgson held serve in the third quarter and then broke the game wide open thanks to a 9-2 run early in the fourth quarter, capped by a Stansbury tomahawk dunk on the fast break with 5:30 to go. That opened up a 15-point lead for Hodgson and the Silver Eagles never looked back.

The key for Hodgson on offense was balance – Stansbury, Williams, senior forward Dawson Grinnage (11 points) and senior guard Nasir Galloway (10 points) all reached double figures.

“During practice, we make a conscious effort to share on the wealth as coach calls it,” said Grinnage, who went 7 for 7 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. “When L.J. is scoring, when I’m scoring, when the whole team is scoring, we just come together so well and put numbers on the board.”

Defensively, Hodgson used an assortment of defensive looks to keep Inge, a 20-plus points-per-game scorer, in check for most of the game.

“We tried to communicate and play help defense on Julius, who’s a great player,” Grinnage said. “I started off on him, using my left hand to try to bother him, then we got some bulldogs, Nasir Galloway and Derek Stanford, to slide with him, contest shots and just put pressure on him.”

“He was definitely a part of game play,” Sobocinski admitted. “We felt like if we could limit him, then we’d really have a shot.”

With a big win in a hostile environment in their bag, Hodgson realizes the job isn’t done yet, but they feel pretty good about how far they’ve come and how far they can still go.

“Last year we were in the locker room going crazy,” Williams said. “So to be 7-2 feels real good right now. Way better than last year.”

“It’s definitely be a blessing coming off of a not-so-good season last year,” Grinnage. “We’re humble, but we’re also hungry. This isn’t where we want to be. We want to be at the Bob [Carpenter Center] at the end of the season. This is just another step for us to get there.”

Hodgson's John Stansbury (15) and Greg Tucker go for a rebound in a crowd in the second quarter of Hodgson's 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

Hodgson’s John Stansbury (15) and Greg Tucker go for a rebound in a crowd in the second quarter of Hodgson’s 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

Hodgsons Keenan Williams (4) shoots over A.I. du Pont's Jude Gulotti in the second quarter of Hodgson's 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

Hodgsons Keenan Williams (4) shoots over A.I. du Pont’s Jude Gulotti in the second quarter of Hodgson’s 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

Hodgson's John Stansbury lays in a pass for two points in the first quarter of Hodgson's 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

Hodgson’s John Stansbury lays in a pass for two points in the first quarter of Hodgson’s 61-48 win at A.I. du Pont Thursday.

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